EDUC 587

Week 10: Burning Man Project

I had a hard time getting started on this project. These past two weeks were very overwhelming for me (both in school work and personally), so I don’t know that I satisfied the vision of this project (or the assignment), at least not as I wanted to. Instead I chose to simply make my own version of the Chibitronics project that I shared on my blog in Week 9. My goal was to just start working and see where it took me. I’m not really in a situation where it’s easy to create a video right now, so instead I’m going to narrate my process with pictures.

As I said in my previous Week 10 post, I have a lot of recyclables building up in my apartment. So I took some cardboard and styrofoam from that pile, as well as some printer paper, some cable ties, and tape to form my materials.

I then started thinking about my own favorite poems (ee cummings especially, because the creator of the original project used an ee cummings poem, and I just generally really love him. I chose the final two lines from “since feeling is first.” I printed them out on the paper.

Using a box cutter (I wish I had an Xacto knife), I cut out the parenthesis.

I wanted to create a kind of open box for the paper to sit above. The backing would have all the lights and copper tape, and the LEDs would then shine through the holes I cut in the paper. So I started cutting the styrofoam into edges for the box, and taping the styrofoam onto a cardboard backing. I tried using the natural edges already in the stryofoam, but they were wildly different heights once I cut them, so I had to trim them down to be roughly even.

As it turns out, cutting styrofoam makes a mess and I highly discourage anyone else from using it.

I then started to create mini-cardboard borders that I thought would contain the light and prevent it from bleeding out–I only wanted the parentheses to be illuminated.

With that done, I started laying my copper tape and testing it.

OK — the hard part was done. But when I laid the paper over, I realized how ill-conceived the mini-box idea was.

My plan to fix that was to add an additional cardboard backing–this time affixed to the paper–which would also have a cutout for the parentheses. That way, the cardboard would block most of the light. So I started cutting again.

And then testing.

That was better, but some light was still bleeding out. So I knew then that I had to create a full cardboard backing, and then just abandon the mini-box idea.

Much better! Now to try out the cable ties. My plan was to use them for edges of the parentheses, to create a cleaner look. But I couldn’t seem to get them to stay with just the tape. A hot glue gun would probably have worked, but I don’t have one at home.

I’m going to keep toying around with different ideas on how to affix them, but here’s a short video showing the effect.

All in all, I’m not 100% pleased with the end result, but I’m glad I was able to sit down and produce something, even in the midst of a difficult week.

EDUC 587

Week 9: Chibitronics in English Language Arts

When researching how educators have used Chibitronics with their students, I wanted to look specifically for English Language Arts applications – both because it is my content area and because I think it is often excluded from folks thinking about STEM learning. I wanted to bridge that gap and find ways to blend STEM learning into a “soft” subject like English.

I found this awesome lesson plan on Instructables that used the Chibitronics kit to make Light Up Poetry—basically, a visual interpretation of a poem. You can download the detailed lesson plan here (you’ll need a free account to access it) or watch a quick YouTube video that shows off the final result.

I think the instructor made a great choice in using an ee cummings poem for the project. I am generally a fan of ee cummings, but his poetry can be very abstract, especially for students who are relatively new to experimental and modernist poems. The visual display created with Chibitronics helps to convey the emotion of the poem.

I also appreciated the design process that the instructor includes in her lesson plan. She describes the challenges she faced in getting the light up display to look exactly how she wanted—she experimented with different paper types, printing methods, and other materials to have the leaves and words visible exactly how she imagined. It’s exactly the kind of prototyping and revising that we want our student makers to do!

When I looked at the final product show in the YouTube video, I was reminded of a poetry book project I did with my 11th graders when I was student teaching. Students selected a poem they had written throughout the unit and transformed an old book to become a visual interpretation of the poem. We then had a gallery walk where students viewed their classmates’ projects and spoke to the artist and poet about their interpretive choices. Now I’m imagining all the creative, amazing ways the students could have used Chibitronics and LEDs to push the book projects even further!

EDUC 587

Light Up an LED & Code a Blink

This week we started on the Chibitronics Love to Code kit. Here’s my first two projects!

//Love to Code
//Volume 1: Basic Blink

void setup() {

void loop() {